Archive > January 2013

Tamburlaine Must Die

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh, book reviewChristopher Marlowe is a bit of a mystery. He was a famous playwright during the Elizabethan era whose works are today mostly overshadowed by those of Shakespeare. One reason for this is because Marlowe was murdered at the height of his career when he was not yet 30 years old. Although his infamous life has been the subject of several non-fictional studies, it seems that the only hard facts we have about his life are the fact that he was murdered, when and where his body was found, and the injuries that killed him. It was with this scant bit of background, that the award winning author of the psychological crime novel, The Cutting Room – Louise Welsh was approached to write a novella. And so Tamburlaine Must Die was written and published.


Continue reading

The Good Fairies of New York

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

 The Good Fairies of New York, Martin Millar, book reviewMartin Millar’s The Good Fairies of New York is not a new novel. First published in the UK in 1992, it went out of print for some time before eventually being released in the US in 2006 and making it back onto the British market shortly afterwards. I have never read any of Millar’s work before, but with my edition (Piatkus 2011) coming with a glowing foreword by none other than Neil Gaiman (“read it now, and then make your friends buy their own copies. You’ll thank me one day”) it very quickly moved to the top of my “to read” pile. I followed Gaiman’s advice to read it now, but whether I will be encouraging any of my friends to buy copies is something that I am still making my mind up about.


Continue reading

Undiscovered Gyrl

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

Undiscovered Gyrl, Allison Burnett, book reviewIn his novel Undiscovered Gyrl author Allison Burnett gets into the head of a teenage girl and tells her story through her anonymous blog, which is at turns humorous, touching and frighteningly real.

Authors have always been told “write what you know”, but as far as I can tell, this is a rule that Mr. Burnett has shunned totally. Had it resulted in an unsuccessful novel, would have been understandable. But amazingly, it doesn’t. How a 50-something male author can get so much into the head of a teenage girl is totally beyond me. And as far as I know, he hasn’t got any teen-aged daughters to draw upon either.


Continue reading

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets - Eva Rice, book reviewOn the surface, Eva Rice’s debut novel The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets seems almost like “chick lit”. On closer inspection it really is much more.

Before there was Elvis, there was Johnnie Ray – an American pop singer who made girls all over the world swoon, and teenaged Penelope Wallace was one of them. And for her, he was the one bright star in the dreary world of post-WWII England, still rife with shortages – especially cash. One day, Penelope is waiting for a bus when the charismatic Charlotte Ferris sees her and practically kidnaps her for an afternoon tea at her Aunt Claire’s house. And that was when everything changed, not just for these two girls, but for just about everyone in both their families.


Continue reading

84 Charing Cross Road

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff, book reviewLong before the internet, or even computers, New Yorker Helene Hanff started buying books from Marks & Co. in London, thereby beginning relationships that lasted for decades. Her account of this was made into the book 84 Charing Cross Road.

It is a rare instance when non-fiction reads like fiction, and Helene Hanff’s book 84 Charing Cross Road is exactly one of those exceptions. Long before the age of the Internet and on-line book sellers like Amazon, New York writer Hanff saw an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature for a second-hand book shop called Marks & Co, which was located on 84 Charing Cross Road, in London, England. As she was in need of some items that were either out of print or unavailable in the USA, on October 5, 1949 she decided to write to them.


Continue reading

The Night Circus

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern, book reviewIt was some time ago that a fellow reviewer suggested I might enjoy The Night Circus. The reason it took me so long to read it was that somewhere I came across a review or description of the novel which used the term “magical realism”. The only books I have knowingly read in that genre were at university, and I didn’t get on with them very well.

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is about a mysterious circus which seems to arrive out of nowhere and opens at dusk. Full of fantastic shows and experiences, visitors are captivated by it. The novel has two timelines in it, the present being 1902 and the past being over the course of several years in the late nineteenth century which eventually joins with the present.


Continue reading

India Dark

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

India Dark, Kirsty Murray, book reviewIndia Dark is the story of a troupe of Australian juvenile entertainers who go on tour in the Far East back in 1909-1910. Percival’s Liliputian Opera Company – known as the ‘Liliputians – is the creation of Mr Arthur Percival, a man who has recognised that an audience loves cute, charming children, the smaller the better. He has recruited a couple of dozen young performers who can sing, dance, do ventriloquism or magic tricks and his intention is to put on performances all over the Far East. It’s not a new idea and he’s done it before. At the beginning of India Dark, the troupe is back from the USA, looking to hire new children. Some of the children from the previous tour have got too old, too big or too jaded to continue. The life the children are offered (and contracted for) is one of singing and dancing and floating around the world, performing for delighted audiences who will be charmed by their talent and childish charms. Of course what you sign up for and what you actually get are not always the same things.


Continue reading

Hidden

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

Hidden, P. C. Cast,  Kristin Cast, book reviewThe popular House of Night series has now reached double figures, with the recent publication of book number ten, Hidden. Written by mother and daughter team, P.C. and Kristen Cast, the series began with 16 year old Zoey Redbird being Marked to become a vampyre. Zoey’s marks were more advanced than usual, and she had extra powers. Now, in Hidden, Zoey continues the struggle against the evil Neferet, having suffered losses but also gained some unexpected allies. Fortunately for Zoey, the truth about Neferet has been exposed, and she has been cast out from the House of Night and shunned by the vampyre High Council, but of course little details like that aren’t going to sway her from her path to world domination…


Continue reading

A Change in the Weather

Buy book online

Buy book online

 A Change in the Weather, Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed, book review It’s often said that in the moments before you die your life passes in front of your eyes. I’m sceptical about how true that is since anyone who’s had it happen to them is unlikely to be able to report back after the event. By contrast, I can believe that in their final days, the sick and dying probably do look back on their lives and think about the people they loved, the chances they missed and the things that might have been different if they’d come to life’s junctions and taken a different direction. This is the theme of Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed’s short story A Change in the Weather.

An old man lies in his bedroom in India, gathering the people and things he loves around him.


Continue reading

The Oyster House Siege

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

The Oyster House Siege  Jay Rayner, book reviewThe Observer’s Jay Rayner (you’ll also see him on BBC1’s The One Show talking about food matters) is not the only food writer to have dipped a spoon into the saucepan of fiction but on the evidence so far, he’s certainly the best (one might argue, on the basis of Prue Leith’s novel ‘The Choral Society’ that food critics should stay clear of the genre entirely). I loved his novel The Apologist and was keen to read more.

The Oyster House Siege sees Rayner take a darker turn, this time into thriller territory though a comparison with Jake Arnott in the cover blurb should be taken lightly because, for all the gruesome goings on in this story of a robbery gone wrong, this is a black comedy which occasionally brushes shoulders with the farcical.


Continue reading

Wake

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

Wake, Amanda Hocking, book reviewWake is the first novel in Amanda Hocking’s latest series, Watersong. Since I discovered Hocking’s wonderful My Blood Approves series and her Trylle trilogy, she has signed with a publisher, meaning her novels are available in print as well as in Kindle ebook format. I assumed that her writing would be as enjoyable as ever, but there was a thought in the back of my mind wondering whether Wake would measure up to her earlier novels.

Hocking’s stories tend to be about fantasy characters set in our world, and Wake is no different.


Continue reading

Moranthology

Buy book online

Buy book online Buy book online

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran, book review“When I became a journalist at the age of fifteen, it was a matter of simple expediency. Having been home-educated for the previous five years, I had no academic qualifications whatsoever. As a resident of a council estate in Wolverhampton, this seemed to leave me with a grand total of three future employment options: 1) prostitution; 2) working on the checkout at Gateway supermarket, or 3) becoming a writer… So, writing it was.”

In 2011’s bestselling How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran discussed, well, all things female. It had a big impression on me; a year and a half on from reading it, I am no longer concerned that owning only one dress (the one I got married in, never to be worn again), one pair of heels (which I can’t really walk in), never being bothered with make-up (so many things I’d rather do with my time and money) and not wanting babies (ditto) makes me a rubbish woman.


Continue reading

prev posts